Fort McCoy News April 24, 2015

McCoy to host Armed Forces Day Open House May 16

BY THERESA R. FITZGERALD
Public Affairs Staff

Fort McCoy will host its annual Armed Forces Day Open House Saturday, May 16, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Plan to attend this free event, which is open to the public.

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Visitors can access the event site via Gate 15 off of Wisconsin Highway 21 between Tomah and Sparta. Adult visitors must be prepared to show photo identification upon entering.

Armed Forces Day is observed nationally the third Saturday in May to pay tribute and show support for service members. "Honor Those Who Answered the Call to Serve" is the Department of Defense's theme for this year's Armed Forces Day.

This is the perfect time to visit the installation and walk through the Commemorative Area World War II-era buildings without an appointment, said Fort McCoy Public Affairs Officer Linda Fournier.

Fournier said, "It is with great pleasure that we can host the open house and allow the public to come here to learn about Fort McCoy's history and mission.

"Fort McCoy's history spans 106 years. It was established to provide a location where Soldiers could train. Today, its enduring value remains as a training site for all branches of the military, including active, guard, and reserve," Fournier said.

The Commemorative Area grounds, building 905, and surrounding area are the location for the day's activities. The Commemorative Area World War II-era buildings, Equipment Park, and Veterans Memorial Plaza are open throughout the event.

The Commemorative Area buildings have been set aside and preserved to illustrate Fort McCoy's past and present-day training with period displays. The buildings will be staffed to help guide guests.

Visitors are encouraged to start at the information area, located at the entrance to building 905. Employees can provide an overview of events and answer questions.

Many fun-filled educational activities and exhibits are scheduled for this year's event, such as: narrated, guided bus tours; ID (dog) tags; military vehicle and fire truck displays; the interactive marksmanship shooting van; military clothing displays; and much more.

New this year is an area set aside to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War. Fort McCoy is a Commemorative Partner with the United States of America Vietnam War Commemoration. A proclamation signed by President Barack Obama established May 28, 2012, through Nov. 11, 2025, as the Commemoration of the 50th Anniversary of the Vietnam War to thank and honor Vietnam Veterans and their Families.

A concession stand is available to purchase food or drinks. Additionally, a covered pavilion with picnic tables is located conveniently in the area.

Fort McCoy employees come together as a community to put this event together for the public by serving as tour guides and building monitors and setting up displays.

"We couldn't host this event without their support," Fournier said.

Tour guide Sheila L. Peterson, chief of the operations support division of the Directorate of Plans, Training, Mobilization and Security, has served as an open house tour guide for at least 10 years.

"Showing the public what Fort McCoy has to offer gives guests a sense of belonging and understanding, not only of where their tax dollars go, but also how Fort McCoy trains troops," Peterson said.

"It gives them confidence military personnel are receiving state-of-the-art training in the best conditions possible and ensuring service members are war ready. The reaction from the guests on the tour is priceless, and you walk away feeling like you've made a difference."

It takes a fair amount of effort to set up the medical display, said Jeffrey Paulson of Computer Sciences Corporation, who serves as deputy site manager at Regional Training Site-Medical.

"The payoff is well worth it," Paulson said. "It is our way of giving back to the community.

"Our reward is seeing the positive reaction of those visiting our displays and knowing that they will remember the experience for a long time," Paulson said.

"It is especially fulfilling to be able to demonstrate the advances in medical treatment and technology to our veterans. In order to keep up the 'wow' factor, we try to do something a little different each year."

The Fort McCoy Public Affairs Office is responsible for Open House planning. Any Fort McCoy organization can sponsor an event or set up a display; call Public Affairs at 608-388-2407 to learn how or for more information.